Insights into the Switch from Brew Kettle to Management

Ben Bredesen said the he began to learn very quickly that running a brewery, even in the first few weeks after opening was going to be tough to be a manager, owner and brewer all in one.

“I was trying to do everything myself … brewing, sales, delivery, admin/management,” he recalled about Fat Bottom Brewing in Nashville when the brewery opened in 2012. “Things began falling through the cracks and I realized that I needed to find the right people to help.”

So Bredesen said he slowly grew his team and moved into full-time management less than two years after opening, when he hired a Brewmaster and stepped out of daily brewing.

The hardest part of the switch, he says, has been prioritizing and figuring out what he should be doing each week.

“I now work with managers that handle the brewing operations, the sales team, the taproom, HR and bookkeeping,” he listed. “A lot of my time is spent solving problems around the brewery, but that really isn’t my greatest value to the company.”

He noted that it is easy to fall into a pattern of doing the things that are familiar or enjoyable, but a brewer that is looking to grow their business needs to figure out where they need to be spending time, not where they want to be.

“The things that I am focusing on for 2018 are new distribution and spending more time in the market supporting the sales team…that is, I need to be out as the face of the company, not the man behind the curtain,” he said.

Bredesen thinks the best and worst things of moving from brewing into management is the same thing:

“Being able to figure out where I should spend my time,” he said. “It can be very hard to plan out and prioritize each week — and enforce that plan when people come to me with problems and questions — but being in charge also gives me the ultimate flexibility to figure out what I want to be doing. I help out a little bit in the brewery still, but our protocols and procedures have changed enough since I stopped full-time brewing that I almost need to be trained as a new employee.”

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